The Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers begin their quest to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their franchise’s history. The Stanley Cup Final is here and this series could have the most evenly matched teams squaring off in the 2023 Finals. This scene is not new to either team, having appeared in the SCF before. Vegas lost to the Washington Capitals in 2018, while Florida was ousted by the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.
Florida, Vegas appear in second Stanley Cup Final in team history
Will the layoff be a factor?
Both teams have had rest since their last playoff series, with Vegas having last played five days ago and Florida 10 days. This could play into the hands of Florida, as they have had more rest. Or does it favor Vegas, who is coming off of a playoff series and are more game ready? With this being the SCF, both teams will have adrenaline going through their body. We will have to see if adrenaline or the layoff play any factor in this opening game.
How they got here
The Panthers have no question having had the harder, more impressive playoff run, knocking out three Stanley cup favorites. They beat the Boston Bruins in the first round 4 games to 3, the Toronto Maple Leafs in round 2 4 games to 1, and the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final 4 games to none. The playoff run of the Golden Knights is less spectacular but still impressive. Vegas knocked out the Winnipeg Jets in round 1 4 games to 1, the Edmonton Oilers in round 2 4 games to 2, and the Dallas Stars 4 games to 2 in the Western Conference Final.In total, Vegas has played 17 games thus far and Florida 15.
Panthers, Golden Knights playoff leaders
Both teams have been impressive in one way or another this postseason. As far as individual stats go, the Panthers leading scorer is forward Matthew Tkachuk with 21 points (nine goals and 12 assists) in 16 games. Vegas is led by Jack Eichel, who has registered six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in 17 games. The goaltenders have been sharp and will play a factor in this series. Adin Hill of the Golden Knights has a record of 7-3 with a 2.07 GAA and a .937 save percentage with two shutouts in 11 games. Panthers Segei Bobrovsky is 11-2 with a 2.21 GAA and a .935 save percentage with one shutout in 14 games.
Similar playoff stats for Vegas, Florida
The Golden Knights and Panthers are similar in a number of ways in the playoffs. Below are the numbers, along with where they rank in playoff rankings.
In power play percentage, Florida has the edge with 27.9% (6) and Vegas has a success rate of 18.5% (9). Florida has the better penalty kill rate at 71.2% (13) and Vegas is at 63% (14). Vegas and their goals for 3.65 (3) are in the top five of that category and Florida is at 3.13 (7), good for top 10. The goals against are almost the same. Vegas has a small advantage with a 2.65 GAA (4) to the Panthers 2.69 (6).
Florida, Vegas lack offense in losses
In the 2023 NHL Playoffs, the Panthers and Golden Knights have had much success in getting to the SCF. However, the losses they have are because they have been shut down offensively. In the five losses by Vegas, they have scored a total of seven goals. Florida is no different. In the Panthers four losses, they have scored six goals. Florida and Vegas will have to provide more offense in this series as the lack of offense could come back to haunt them.
Projected lineups for the Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers
Vegas Golden Knights
Ivan Barbashev-Jack Eichel- Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith- William Karlsson- Michael Amadio
Brett Howden- Chandler Stephenson- Mark Stone
William Carrier- NIcolas Roy- Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez- Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb-Shea Thoedore
Nicolas Hague- Zach Whitecloud
Adin HIll- Jonathan Quick
Injuries: Laurent Brossoit (lower-body), Logan Thompson (undisclosed)
Scratched: Teddy Blueger, Paul Cotter, Ben Hutton, Phil Kessel, Kaeden KOrczak, Brayden Pachal
Carter Verhaege-Aleksander Barkov- Anthony Duclair
Nick Cousins- Sam Bennett- Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen, Anton Lundell- Sam Reinhart
Ryan Lomberg- Eric Staal- Colin White
Gustav Forsling- Aaron Ekblad
Marc Staal- Brandon Montour
Josh Mahura- Radko Gudas
Sergei Bobrovsky- Alex Lyon
Injuries: Patric Hornqvist (concussion)
Scracthed: Zac Dalpe, Givani Smith, MIke Benning, Casey Fitzgerald, Evan Fitzpatrick, Lucas Carlsson, Mack Guzda, Matt Kierstad, Grigori Deniasenko, ALeksi Heponiemi, Mackie Samoskevich, Connor Bunnaman, Patrick Giles, John Ludvig, Santtu Kinnunen, Calle Sjalin
lineups via nhl.com
Where to watch:
Saturday, June 3, 2023 8 p.m. ET
TNT, TBS, truTV, CBC, SN, TVAS